The Unsnackables

Probing the blurry line between junk food and haute cuisine

Photo-by-Blaque-X-from-PexelsWe always want what we can’t have. When it comes to junk food, though, you’d think we’d have more than we could possibly consume right here in America. We live in the country of pop tarts, corn dogs, Peeps, Twinkies, Twizzlers, sodas and Frappuccinos. And yet, here in the land of plenty, some choose to dream outside the box.

Unsnackables is a blog written by a “lifelong snack obsessive” with the pen name of Folu. I assume Folu is female (based on her photo) and American (because she references her childhood in Minnesota at one point). She spends her time fantasizing about foods she finds in Portuguese trade journals and Latvian snack blogs. While she apparently succeeds in ordering and consuming some of these items, most of them romp in her imagination as symbols of a mythical Halloween she will never experience.

Each weekly post on Unsnackables consists of a short introduction followed by her top selection in four categories (sweet, savory, thirsty and boozy), along with an example of unsnackableIRL (something she has managed to snag for herself). A recent post, “Starburst Effigies and Cashew Soda,” featured these items:

  • Cornflower flavored ice cream, studded with flax seeds and encased in a rye cone
  • Spicy chicken sandwich with apple slices, from McDonald’s Malaysia
  • SĂŁo Geraldo, a cashew soda from Brazil
  • A “booze soup” from Japan
  • My Chew Jelly Peach, a Korean treat “like a jellybean and a skittle and a cooling fruity bite of happiness all in one.”

Photo-by-cottonbro-from-PexelsHer poetic approach to her subject is obvious, but other things seem more important. Unlike Andrew Zimmern, her choices don’t seem based on extremes of shock and distaste. And unlike most American junk food, these aren’t snacks that are bad for you. Many of the components aren’t junk at all, and some of them sound downright appetizing.

Have we come to the point where snack and junk food is crossing over into the world of haute cuisine? Apparently so, judging from a post in another blog titled Michael W Travels. The author describes a recent visit to Momofuku Ko, David Chang’s restaurant in Manhattan’s East Village, which has held two Michelin stars since 2009. In reverential terms, he details the menu that night: three types of pizza (BBQ chicken, spicy tomato, potato and ricotta), a burger and cold fried chicken.

Even if we assume these dishes were carefully prepared and intensely flavored, they are light years away from our traditional understanding of haute cuisine. That understanding was based on luxury ingredients far removed from our everyday lives (foie gras, truffles, seasonal seafood and game) prepared with a high degree of artistry. While no one can doubt Chang’s artistry, it’s obvious that the nature of our dreams has changed.

 

Mark Spivak specializes in wine, spirits, food, restaurants and culinary travel. He is the author of several books on distilled spirits and the cocktail culture, as well as three novels. His latest release, Impeachment, is now available on Amazon.

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